It feels like I’ve been running for years and now I’m learning to walk.
For years, anxiety kept me on my toes. Moving fast. Nervous of what was around the next corner. Waiting for the next trigger to surprise me. Anxious of the next reminder that my life looked fine on the outside and I was a nervous wreck on the inside.
I kept busy to avoid that swirling cloud of dust that trailed behind me. I had fun, loved people well, served beloved churches, made a family and created a life I love. Except for the feeling that would sneak in around dark corners that maybe, just maybe, a lot of this life was built on shaky ground. I knew the Jesus story well and it was changing my heart. However, some days it felt like I was simply adding the Jesus story on top of my already shaky foundation, instead of digging up the old stories of my earlier foundation that no longer served me.
How many days did I beat myself up inside because I was a pastor with panic attacks? With all the information and experiences of God and our holy stories, why didn’t I feel at peace more often? Each panic attack or season of anxiety was another reminder of the human frailty inside me. I was determined to learn from it to at least help the people around me as they navigated their own imperfections.
In February, I decided to pull back the covers on my life and shine a light on my auto pilot. I was curious about what I would find. I’ve spent decades afraid of what was underneath. No more. Well, I was still scared, but I didn’t care anymore. My life was not sustainable. When the panic attacks during preaching started again, it was time.
I wanted to befriend the parts of me that scared me. I thought they’d have something to teach me. My heart has whispered, “anxiety, don’t leave me, until you’ve taught me everything I need to know.”
This intense season of growth, discomfort, pain, truth and grace has been transformative. I’ve been running for a long time. It’s what I knew. It wasn’t a bad life.
But this walking thing?